When I really need to fix a problem, I make art. I always know if I am avoiding problems, or am unable to find appropriate solutions because I make very little.
Over the past few weeks I have had to really force myself to create, because my mind has been fixated on trying to understand the source of a problem. Although my production hadn’t stopped completely, I felt like I was making nothing… not even headway.
As a strategy to force myself to problem solve, I went to a store and bought a really nice visual diary, and in this, I have been attempting to get myself into a habit of drawing regularly. Over the past few years I have been feeling quite stink about my drawing skills. I have always been a really good drawer but my digital practice has had a negative impact on my confidence to draw. One of my earliest memories was of drawing the album cover to Xanadu. I think I was about five, and I recall the drawing being a very close replication of Olivia Newton-John on an art-deco-disco podium. I loved that movie and the soundtrack. I always used to daydream a Xanadu reality, with me roller-skating and singing through the streets of Los Angeles.
I know that I am a particularly good drawer, but drawing takes patience, and I haven’t really had the time to be patient with drawing media, nor myself. My Creative Practice PhD is the space I have created for myself to enable me to re-hone my skills. From my perspective, drawing is a skill. People believe it is a talent, and I agree that some people do indeed have an aptitude for being awesome drawers. However, good drawing is simply a matter of being observant, and training to ensure that the hand matches what the eyes can see.
I am not yet feeling confident to draw from observation again as I used to. For the moment, I am investing time in working with lines. Line is a basic element of design. What I have been doing lately is engaging in a process where I draw lines which evolve into abstractions. I enjoy drawing in an abstract manner because it helps me find a meeting place between my left brain and my right brain. I take the time to focus on line, then tone, and then color. It has helped me slow down enough to start tackling a solution the problem I mentioned earlier. It has most definitely worked because my productivity has increased again, and as well as creative writing and abstract drawings, I have completed three video works (I am teaching myself to use Adobe Premier Pro), and one still digital image. During this time I have also been thinking through my research a lot. It is good to be feeling competent again.
Perhaps I will start to make observational drawings again in a week or two. I know that if I encounter a barrier when I try to draw something accurately, it will put me off, and I will give up. This is why I have been feeling stink about my drawing skills, because over the past few years every time I have tried to draw something, I haven’t been able to resolve it. I am slowly getting my drawing confidence back. Being a skilled drawer is a very core aspect of my identity, so not feeling able to draw has contributed to a huge feeling of loss within my inner-being.
I just ate a really yummy bagel sandwich and as I look out the window of this studio in Davis, California, I see a very hot guy wearing glasses riding by on a tricycle. There is a broom sticking out of the basket on the back.
Today, my friends who I am staying with, had to go to San Francisco early in the morning as one of them is having her knee replaced. It is something that has been getting deferred for a number of years, and they have both been very nervous. In order to give them a hand, I stayed behind so that I could take their son to school. He has ancestry to the tribes of people at Pitt River, and will turn six in a few weeks. In order to get him to school I had to drive. Even though I have driven on the right-hand side of the road in the US before, and also from Amsterdam to Hamburg in Germany, I was feeling very nervous. Perhaps because I have been entrusted with their son. I am very good with children. I love kids. I can identify with their wairua. Anyway, I was so focused on making sure I stayed on the right-hand side, that I got us lost. He was about thirty minutes late to school. We had to go to the office to get him a late note.
American schools seem quite different to schools in Aotearoa/New Zealand, but like all schools they operate as the places where young people learn the rules they must adhere to in their broader social settings. Schools have a hidden curriculum that subliminally internalises governance structures within our youth. Schools are the reason we ‘know’ our place in the pecking order.
I often did not ‘know’ my place in school, and throughout my schooling rebelled against being made to conform. Being an Indigenous minority in a racist colonial environment made me hypersensitive to the ways that people, including teachers, would attempt to marginalize me. I often fought back against entrenched stereotypes. However, by the time I got to the end of my high-schooling, I had given up the fight, and I stopped engaging. I think a lot of people from my past would be surprised to find out I am a highly qualified and prolific artist/academic.
I also think I dreamed of a guy that I had a crush on in high-school, because I keep encountering him in my thoughts today.
I am eating a delicious nectarine.